Raider Project Marriage Retreat 2020

March 16, 2020 0 Comments

LETTING GO AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2020 AND BEYOND

The last weekend of February 2020 Raider Project hosted it's annual Marriage Retreat in Eastern North Carolina on Topsail Island. It was a huge success. Veterans committed to relationship workshops, meals together, and even yoga. One of our attendees Gina Ris, shares experience.


“We each have our own story, and we each have our own stories that we tell ourselves.” 

-Brad Barton

If I had to come up with a bumper sticker slogan for the 2020 Raider Project Marriage Retreat weekend, this would be it. Guest speakers Brad and Melissa Barton led the way in sharing with us each of their own stories; each of them finding the beauty in the struggle, and how they learned to CHOOSE the stories they tell themselves in order to live a more loving and intentional life with each other. 

My experience of this retreat comes from just that: my own story, the stories I’ve heard and accepted from others, the ones I’ve told myself over the years, and the new stories I was excited to start telling myself. I was able to find more strength and peace in my story, while changing the stories I had been telling myself for years.

Immediately we were encouraged to be vulnerable with our spouses, to realize that being vulnerable was not a weakness, as many of us had been told or had been telling ourselves. Instead, we were asked to shift our mindset to see that vulnerability was the biggest strength in making the relationship with our spouse last. Throughout the weekend, we were challenged to acknowledge what habits and behaviors were preventing us from being the biggest supporter of our spouses, and what stories we had been telling ourselves that prevented us from showing more empathy and love to our partners. 

“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

-Dr. Jim Richards

Dr. Jim Richards’ messages tied in beautifully to this whole idea that we have the power to CHOOSE. He emphasizes that we have the power to choose what we focus on in our relationships, and that our emotions change based on where we focus our attention. In other words, if we choose to focus on painful memories and make them significant, we are choosing to suffer. But, if we choose to focus on what we value in our spouses, we’re making it possible to open the doors to honesty, communication, and prosperity within our relationships. 

“MONSTERS DON’T STAY IN BOXES, THEY GET OUT.”

This truth was something Melissa hit hard on when reminding us of the power of communication with our spouses, that “when I shut down, I shut you out.” This especially resonated with me. 

I underwent brain surgery 3 months ago, and having a brain tumor removed felt like it released a host of toxic emotions that I could no longer hide from. It was like everything that I pushed down, put away in a box, and refused to talk about, was finally able to “get out.” For the first time in my life, I was forced to do nothing but sit and think, and this thinking led me right to the monsters I had stubbornly and willfully kept tucked away for years.  

The beauty of this marriage retreat weekend was that the Raider Project pulled together a community of people into an environment where I didn’t feel ashamed of my stories. I found myself acknowledging feelings I had previously refused to think about. I found myself accepting past events. I found myself looking at my spouse and really seeing him. I found myself choosing to communicate with my husband and trust that my vulnerability will only help him understand me and love me more.

“20/20 vision in 2020.”

The 2020 Raider Project Marriage Retreat was a weekend dedicated to honesty, vulnerability, and communication. It was a weekend dedicated to taking a long, hard look in the mirror and acknowledging my own shortcomings. It was a weekend dedicated to slowing down and connecting on a deep level with my husband. I’m looking forward to many more opportunities to be a part of this community that inspires others to be the best version of themselves!




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